Ohio governor becomes 16th Republican in White House race
Kasich, a former member of Congress, vowed to “restore” the United States at his announcement speech in Columbus, Ohio.
“I am here to ask you for your prayers, for your support, for your efforts because I have decided to run for President of the United States,” he told a cheering crowd.
“I have the experience and the testing… and I believe I know how to work and help restore this great United States.”
Kasich was a member of Congress from 1983 to 2000, and made a brief foray in the Republican presidential primaries in 2000 although he is not well known at the national level.
He is seeking support from voters outside the traditional Republican base: blue collar workers, the unemployed or underemployed and minorities.
He vowed to create opportunities for the vulnerable, leveraging a message of upward mobility.
“There are a lot of people in America today who are not sure that that American dream is possible, that that American dream is alive,” he said.
“How about if you’re a member of the minority community, an African American? You wonder, ‘the system I think sometimes doesn’t just work for me, but sometimes I feel like that system works against me.'”
Like rival Jeb Bush in Florida, Kasich is expected to present his state as a showcase for his brand of tax-cutting, deficit-slashing fiscal conservatism.
He also referred often to the Bible in his speech, calling for “empathy” and “compassion” for the poor and the struggling.
“Economic growth is not an end unto itself. If you’re drug addicted, we’re going to try to rehab you and get you on your feet,” he said
“If you’re mentally ill, prison is no place for you, some treatment and some help is where you need to be,” he added.
The list of aspirants for the Republican nomination includes at least four senators, four governors, four former governors, an ex-senator, a former CEO, a retired neurosurgeon and billionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who has taken the lead in the polls.
Kasich is barely showing up in the polls at this early stage of the race but he is still respected in political circles for two reasons.
His popularity in his home state goes well beyond his Republican base, as evidenced by his re-election as governor in November with 64 percent of the vote.
And he leads one of the most important states in the presidential elections. A key swing state in the northern industrial heartland, Ohio is seen as pivotal to electoral success for both Republicans and Democrats. The state twice went for President Barack Obama.
In a sign of the state’s importance, Republicans chose Cleveland, Ohio as the site of their nominating convention in July 2016, as well as the venue for the first televised debate of the campaign on August 6.
The Republican primaries are set to begin in February 2016 in Iowa and New Hampshire, but the calendar is not yet set in stone. The presidential elections will be held in November 2016.
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